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Can I Have a Home Inspected Prior to Placing an Offer?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

A lot of first-time buyers wonder if it is all right to have a home inspected before they place an offer on a house they are interested in. The answer is yes, definitely, if you want to be certain it is the house for you quickly so you don’t waste time haggling.

A home inspection is an essential part of any housing purchase, and should be at the top of your to-do list. The house does not have to be perfect, but you do need to know what you are letting yourself in for. In this way, you can negotiate with the person selling the house from a position of having all the facts, rather than just hoping things will work out.

The Cons

The only downside to a pre-offer home inspection is that they might sell the house to another person. However, home inspections usually only cost around $300 or $400, so it might be worth it to risk this money rather than place an offer on the house, give in your earnest money deposit, but then find out it is a lemon you really don’t want.

The Pros

A professional home inspection will reveal important things you need to know about the property before committing to it. You realtor should have several people he or she can recommend, and also be willing to attend the inspection. Two pairs of eyes are better than one. They will also be in a better position to negotiate for you if they have a complete picture. In addition, they can advise you on anything that might be a "deal breaker," so you don’t waste any more time and effort on a property you will regret buying.

Some people believe that realtors will discourage pre-offer inspections because they don’t want to lose the deal, but this is not the case. It is far better for everyone to know the truth about the property before spending ages on the paperwork, only to have it fall through.

If it passes, you have the green light to buy the house you want right away, and usually at the right price. If you decide you don’t want the house in the end based on what the inspection reveals, you won’t have to forfeit part of your earnest money deposit because the seller has taken the house off the market but you’ve changed your mind.

Dealing with the Right to Cure Provision

Many states have various regulations in reference to home inspections. These regulations are often boilerplate as part of the paperwork in relation to making a formal offer. The "right to cure" provision would give the chance for the seller to fix any issues within a reasonable amount of time, rather than simply having to give up the deal. This can cause problems if you really want to back out for whatever reason.

In terms of the right to cure, you could then discuss the issues with the seller and be clear about what you want done, and to what standard. If you don’t have the confidence that they will solve the issue in the manner you wish, you could negotiate a lower price on the understanding that you will undertake the repairs.

Finding the Right Home Inspector

Ask your realtor for recommendations. Interview three of them. Also consider asking anyone in your area who has bought a house recently. They may be able to suggest someone reliable.

Inspections should take place only during daylight hours. This means you may have to be patient getting hold of one. See if they have a website, and contact them via email with your questions in the first instance.

Determine what Services They Offer

Some will do a pre-offer walk-through, while others do a more thorough inspection. The older the home, the more thorough the inspection should be.

As you can see, a pre-offer home inspection has many advantages. Follow these tips to help you find the home of your dreams.

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